Dothan Preparatory Academy

Students in Jacinda Lawrence's 7th grade honors math class play a game in groups of four as they prepare for a Friday test at Dothan Preparatory acdemy on Wednesday.

Dothan City Schools lost 331 students compared to fall enrollment last year, representing the largest exodus in a year-to-year comparison in at least five years.

Last year, 8,867 students in K-12 were counted in the state’s mandated fall count. This year, the number of students enrolled in DCS fell to 8,536 students – a 3.7% loss, according to data provided by DCS on its website

“This is the beginning of the new school year. Changes are never easy. We are not surprised that we lost some students,” the report posted to the DCS website said. “We look at this as a baseline year and as with any major transformational change, understand that a period of three to five years is necessary to really effect change.”

This number is a screenshot of enrollment as of Oct. 2, 2019. The total is different than the average daily membership (ADM) that averages daily attendance over the 20 school days after Labor Day. ADM, which should be reported soon, is the only figure used to issue foundation funding from the state.

In the past, there has not been a large amount of deviation between fall enrollment numbers and ADM.

A report on the school system’s website states there were 541 “no shows” by Aug. 30. That number includes the number of students that withdrew by that date. However, the system noted that 208 students were enrolled between Aug. 30 and Sept. 30.

“Reasons for the loss in enrollment vary,” the report stated. “Our data and history show that Dothan City continues to have a mobile population. There were 131 out-of-state transfers and 250 transferred to public schools somewhere in the state of Alabama. Ninety-five went to private schools within the state.”

It is difficult to determine at what schools experienced the most students leaving since the school district has changed how students are grouped by grade level.

Total enrollment at each of the schools is as follows:

>> Dothan High School, 1,693

>> Dothan Preparatory Academy, 1,754

>> Beverlye Intermediate School, 648

>>Carver School for Math, Science & Technology, 465

>> Faine Elementary School, 426

>> Girard Intermediate School, 404

>> Girard Primary School, 398

>>Heard Elementary School, 364

>> Hidden Lake Primary School , 485

>>Highlands Elementary School, 564

>>Kelly Springs Elementary School, 543

>>Morris Slingluff Elementary School, 330

>>Selma St. Elementary School, 472

Each year, the school system’s funding is based on the student count taken one year prior. Next year, regardless of new enrollment, the system will likely lose out on more than $1 million in funding for teachers, principals, assistant principals, counselors, and librarians as well as other funding that is associated with ADM like textbooks and technology.

“We are excited about the additional academic offerings and the changes to our sports and extra-curricular programs,” the report stated. “We believe the changes will result in a stabilization of our student population.”

Due to more state funding for First Class preschool classrooms, the Dothan Early Education Center has enrolled more students. As of Oct. 2, 165 students are enrolled. The city of Dothan also serves 375 students in its Head Start program.

Some surrounding school districts are reporting increases in enrollment. Houston County School Superintendent David Sewell said several weeks ago that the district’s enrollment was up by about 50 students. Enterprise City School district is reporting a 138 student increase from last year’s ADM. This year’s ADM is at 6,759 students.

Several private schools in the Dothan area continue to report solid numbers of students enrolled: Houston Academy (K-12), 658; Providence Christian School (1-12), 698; and Emmanuel Christian (K-12) Academy, 366.

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